HISTORY OF BOMBING SQUADRON TWO (VB-2)
Bombing Squadron TWO (VB-2) was one of the Navy's oldest dive bomber squadrons, a part of Air Group TWO (AG-2), when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. Known as the "Highhatters," it was flying SBDs in Lexington (CV-2) and took part in the first air strikes against the Japanese with raids at Lae, Salamaua and Rabaul. During the first five months of the Pacific war, AG-2 sank two Jap CLs, aided in sinking the carrier Shoho and damaging a second, with VB-2 participating in all actions conducted from Lexington until that ship was sunk at Coral Sea on 8 May 1942. After loss of CV-2, AG-2 and VB-2 were disbanded and returned to the United States.One year later, on 1 June, 1943, at the NAS, Quonset Point, RI, the United States Navy commissioned a second Air Group TWO consisting of a 36 F6F plane fighter squadron, VF-2; a 12 TBF torpedo plane squadron, VT-2; and two SBD 18 plane dive bombing squadrons, VB-14 and VB-15. In August, 1943, the two VB squadrons were combined into one 36 SBD squadron, Bombing Squadron TWO.
After commissioning, the dive bombers flew to NAS Wildwood, NJ, for a summer of intensive combat training. In September, VB-2 reassembled with the VF and VT squadrons at Quonset Point and, under overall command of CDR Roy Johnson as CAG, group tactics training began. In mid-October the Air Group left for various stations on the West Coast; VB-2 flew 36 SBDs cross-country to NAS Santa Rosa, Calif., and continued training for a Pacific war deployment.
Shortly before Christmas, 1943, the squadron was loaded aboard a carrier for transportation to the Hawaiian Islands; New Years day found VB-2 stationed at NAS Hilo, Hawaii, and training for a combat assignment continued. Sporting a Disney Big Bad Wolf insignia, the squadron was known as "The Sea Wolves."
In mid-February, with a move only highest-level commanders make and understand, the Navy took the combat-ready SBDs from Bombing Squadron TWO and replaced them with 36 of the early SB2Cs. With only four weeks training in "the Beast," Air Group Two was assigned to the new Hornet (CV-12), flagship of RADM J.J. "Jocko" Clark, a new Task Force 58.1 commander. Thus VB-2 pilots deployed on a seven-month combat cruise with 15 to 20 hours each of flight time in their new dive bombers and, two weeks after going aboard Hornet on 15 March 1944, they were flying combat strikes against Palau.
No other dive bomber squadron had as rough a begining-getting new, more complicated aircraft-then being required to immediately fly them in combat. It took a better trained pilot to fly the Beast successfully and safely than to fly the SBD, but this was not a problem if a squadron had time to properly train and prepare in the SB2C before going into combat. Due to the necessities of war, VB-2 did not get that opportunity-and paid a price in operational losses.
In May, 1944, AG-2 CAG, CDR Roy Johnson was promoted to Air Boss of Hornet; CDR Jackson D. Arnold, C.0. of VT-2, became the new CAG.
In six and one-half months of intensive combat operations against Japanese warships, support ships and island bases-the second Truk raid, Turkey Shoot and First Philippine Sea, Guam-Saipan landings, numerous Bonin Island raids, and extensive raids in a return to the Philippines in September, 1944,-VB-2 established itself as one of the top dive bomber squadrons of the Pacific war. Fourteen of its planes were first to dive at Philippine Sea, attacking Zuikaku (with VB-1), scoring a credited eight hits and numerous near-misses. Believed to be sunk at the time, this carrier survived and was finally put under when used as a decoy at Leyte Gulf in October, 1944. However, Zuikaku never flew another combat strike from her deck after the mauling received from VB-2 at Philippine Sea. Nine VB-2 pilots received the Navy Cross; all others, including gunners, received DFCs for this important mission.
Air Group TWO attacked the Bonins (Chichi, Haha and Iwo Jima) so often in the summer of 1944 that the isles became known as "Jocko Jima-Clark Island Group" in honor of RADM J.J. "Jocko" Clark, who flew his flag in Hornet and often directed AG-2 operations first-hand.
The Sea Wolves took part in a new tactical concept during the last two months of its combat cruise. In mid-August, total SB2Cs were reduced from 36 to 24 aircraft, and 12 F6Fs replaced them as fighter bombers. Twelve pilots were assigned these aircraft, and were used in this role during all remaining combat strikes in August and September. The concept of fighter-bombers continued in this air group with F4Us until the end of the war in September, 1945; this was the beginning of the one-plane concept for both fighter and attack missions that exists in Naval Aviation VFA Hornet F-18 squadrons today.
Upon return to the United States in November, 1944, Air Group Two was reformed, with new pilots and aircraft, at Pasco, Wash. Of old VB-2 pilots, eight Ltjgs were reassigned as a combat-experienced base for the new VB-2 of 24 SB2C-5 aircraft. After short stays at North Island, San Diego, Calif. and Twenty-Nine Palms, Calf., Air Group Two went to Hilo, Hawaii, in March, 1945, followed with a shore assignment on Saipan. In September, 1945, the group was transferred at sea to Shangri-La (CV-38), arriving at Japan as the war ended. Instead of combat strikes with bombs, VB-2 dropped supplies into prisoner-of-war camps and took part in the huge flight of aircraft over the battleship Missouri during the surrender and peace signings conducted aboard.
In October, Bombing Squadron TWO and Air Group TWO returned to San Diego, Calif., and by December, 1945 all squadrons were disestablished. This ended the combat history of one of the top Air Groups, and dive bomber squadrons, in the Pacific War with Japan.
Pacific Combat Record Bombing Squadron TWO (VB-2)
USS Hornet (CV-12)
1 March to 1 October 1944
|Palau Islands-Voleai Raids||29-31 March 1944|
|Wadke-Sawar-Sarmi-Raids||21-24 April 1944|
|Truk-Satawan-Ponape Raids||29 April-1 May 1944|
|Guam-Rata Raids||11-13 June 1944|
|Bonin Island Raids||15-16 June 1944|
|First Philippine Sea (Turkey Shoot)||19-20 June 1944|
|Pagan Island-Marianas Raids||23 June 1944 |
|Iwo Jima Raids||24 June 1944 |
|Bonin Islands Raids||3-4 July 1944 |
|Saipan-Rota-Guam Landings||6-21 July 1944 |
|Woleai-Yap-Ulithi Raids||24-28 July 1944|
|Bonin Islands Raids||4-5 August 1944 |
|Palau Island Landings||15-16 September 1944 |
|Philippine Island Raids||9-24 September 1944|
|Sorties: 1,947 ||Bombs Dropped (Tons): 1,393|
|Combat Hours: 5,521|| |
Probably Sunk 22
|Grand Total||402,050 tons|
Combat Pilots-Bombing Squadron TWO
1 March to 1 October 1944
|LCDRs|| ||LIEUTs.|| || |
|Campbell, G. B. (C.O. ) || ||Bamber, J. W. || || |
|Smith, J. R. (X.0.)|| ||Buell, H. L. (F.O.)|| || |
| || ||Felderman, L. E. || || |
| || ||Galvin, D. (POW) || || |
| || ||Micheel, V. L. (OPS)|| || |
| || || || || |
|Armstrong, K. H.||Maxson, F. A. ||Wells, J. (KIA) ||Alldredge, W.W||Harrsen, F. P|
|Bosworth, A. (KIA)||McGee, J.||Wynn, D. E.||Anderson, R.||Hiigel, C. E.|
|Bush, B||Moore, W. R.||Yaussi, R. A||Armbruster, G. (KIA)||Kahler, D. J.|
|Dane, S.||Powers, J. K.|| ||Berg, G. E.||Looney, F. E.|
|Doherty, A. F.||Richey, M. H.|| ||Callahan, C. W||Norris, A. J.|
|Ewing, H. A.||Ricks, R.|| ||Connell, R. (POW)||Reynolds, A. F.|
|Finnell, B.||Robertson, G. H. || ||Daughtry, W. B.||Sills, D. (KIA)|
|Finger, W. (KIA)||Russom, Z P.|| ||Gaiser, H. E||Smith, D.|
|Fritts, J. (KIA) ||Schaber, J. F. || ||Gurtler, P. T.||Unswood, F. C.|
|Garbe, G. J.||Scheurer, R. E. || || || |
|Garbler, P.||Sherwood, K. (KIA)|| ||STAFF|
|Hardin, G. W. (KIA)||Sonnenberg, E. D. || ||Lt. P. B. Brown||Lt. William Quay|
|Houston, J. (KIA)||Stear, D. S.|| ||Lt. B. Pattee||Lt. Edwin Wenzel|
|Isabella, H. V.||Soyster, H. R.|| || || |
|LaMoyne, F. G.||Taylor, T.J || || || |
|Lawrence, K. (KIA)||Tull, H. E.|| || || |
Combat Gunners-Bombing Squadron TWO
1 March to 1 October 1944
|Albertelli, A. E. ||Cooper, Hank ||Henderson, Cliff (KIA)||Mills, Ben (KIA)|
|Bailey, Walter ||Cressy, William ||Hills, Eddie (KIA)||O'Neil, B. W.|
|Bales, S. H.||Crout, J. V. (KIA) ||Howard, Jimmy ||Pattillo, Morgan A. |
|Begley, Clyde ||Cubetz, Art (KIA) ||Husted, Jack||Ponzar, Al (KIA)|
|Berliner, Jack ||Curry, James||Ingersoll, A. T.||Redman, W. E. (KIA)|
|Billings, Harold (KIA) ||Davis, A. B. |
Jackson, C. E.
|Safford, Ray W. |
|Bolac, Frank ||Donelan, Don ||Kemp, Art ||Scholar, Harry|
|Bottrell, G. V. ||Durako, Joe||Kennedy, L. J.||Secrest, Jack|
|Brigantino, A. C. ||Fanok, Mike ||Killary, Dave||Simmons, Harold|
|Bryan, E. F. ||Flatt, Paul (KIA)||Kline, William||Simpson, Tommy|
|Calpass, R. G. ||Follenweider, Paul ||Lakey, W. D.||Stanley, Burl|
|Carioti, G.||Foster, Leonard (KIA) ||Lee, Robert ||Stoyka, John|
|Case, C. H.|
Freeman, Everett (KIA)
|Long, Oscar (KIA)||Tolar, J. A.|
|Charles, Tommy (KIA) ||Germuska, Larry||Maxwell, A. C.||Ulin, Arne (KIA)|
|Chartier, H. R. ||Harrison, C. F.||McDonald, Russ (KIA)||Vilks, Ramon|
|Chigas, Joe ||Hart, John||McElroy, E. T.||Wilson, H. F.|
|Clark, George||Hastings, W. J.||McGowan, William||Wilson, N. W. |
|Clements, F. E. |
|Meyer, R. C.||Youmans, K. D. |